Sore throats are very common and frequently are caused by a bacteria or virus. They account for 4% of all family physician visits. Strep throat, colds, and flu all affect the tonsils at the back of the throat. And any of these can contribute to getting tonsillitis, which is an inflammation of the tonsils that can create even more complications. But should you have your tonsils removed?
You should consult a specialist to help determine what’s best for your throat and your tonsils. Dr. Terry Baker has years of expertise in ear, nose, and throat treatment and can help you with those needs at our office in Idaho Falls, Idaho.
In the meantime, here’s a short review of tonsillitis that can help you assess the seriousness of your condition.
Understanding the Tonsils
Located in the back of the throat, the tonsils are actually on the frontline of the body’s immune system, helping to prevent germs and bacteria from getting through the mouth and nose. There are actually three types of tonsils, all located in close proximity to each other. They all serve the same general purpose, and they have a high concentration of white blood cells to help defend against germs.
Of the three sets of tonsils, the ones most people are familiar with are the most visible, located in the back of the throat (called the palatine tonsils). These are the most likely to get tonsilitis and create problems.
Symptoms of Tonsillitis
The palatine tonsils are the most prone to inflammation in the form of tonsillitis. Tonsillitis can be viral or bacterial, which means treatments can vary depending on the cause and severity. You might suffer from tonsillitis if you have:
- Swollen tonsils
- Sore throat
- Difficulty swallowing
- Swollen, tender lymph nodes
- Raspy or throaty voice
- Stiff neck
Reasons for Removing Your Tonsils
It may become necessary to remove the tonsils if you suffer from chronic tonsillitis, if it begins to complicate your breathing and swallowing, or if it causes sleep apnea. Sleep apnea can have further complications as well, including heart problems and obesity. In rare cases, the tonsils can become abscessed and make surgery crucial.
The most common tonsillectomies are for airway obstruction and chronic tonsillitis and it’s still pretty common for teenagers to get them. But they are not always necessary, especially if the incidents are rare.
Prevention and Care
Since tonsillitis is infectious, the best method of prevention is good hygiene. This means:
- Washing your hands
- Avoid sharing food, utensils, and drinking glasses
- Replacing your toothbrush if you are diagnosed with tonsillitis
- Coughing or sneezing away from others
Staying at home if you have tonsillitis will prevent others from getting it, and most non-surgical treatments include rest at home. If you’re not going to have surgery, you can expect treatments for pain and fever, saltwater gargles, lozenges, resting in humidified areas, and lots of fluids.
If your tonsillitis is long-lasting, chronic, or causing further complications, call to make an appointment with Dr. Baker today to find out the best treatment.